The Greatest Yoga Of All

Although ‘make love not war’ may be the key to a better life, it’s sadly not what we see when we look around us. Imagine, as John Lennon said, what a wonderful world it would be if there were no wars and no suffering! How cool it would be!

There is nothing that could be more significant, helpful or honoring of human existence and dignity than harmlessness, or non-injury, called ahimsa in yoga.

This may sound simple, but ahimsa requires a complete shift in attitude. Few of us get through life without causing harm, whether by ignoring someone’s feelings, by using more of the earth’s resources than we need or by buying products made by underage and underpaid workers.

How many times a day, consciously or otherwise, do we put ourselves down, reaffirm our hopelessness, dislike our appearance or see ourselves as incompetent or unworthy? How much resentment, guilt or shame do we cling to?

If there is one yoga that that leads to Self-Realization, it is non-injury or ahimsa. - Sri Swami Satchidananda

In a world where selfishness and self-interests are the norm, it takes great courage not to react with greed or anger, which can easily lead to violence. Yoga teaches us to be honest, respectful, to take care of ourselves and others, and ahimsa is integral to these teachings. Simply through the intent to cause less pain, each of us can bring greater dignity to our world so that harm is replaced with harmlessness and disrespect with respect.

Gandhi, one of India’s greatest yogis, was the champion of ahimsa. He changing the course of history by showing how harmlessness is more powerful than violence, inspiring millions of others to follow his lead. This showed that human dignity through non-injury is the essence of human decency. 

By developing a sense of respect for others and a concern for their welfare, we reduce our own selfishness, which is the source of all problems, and enhance our sense of kindness, which is a natural source of goodness. - The Dalai Lama

Practicing mindful yoga, sitting in quiet reflection, meditation or prayer is immediately calming. When we get off the cushion, the peace stays with us, highlighting any tendency to cause harm and making such behavior far less likely. It becomes even more improbable as we deepen awareness of our fundamental interconnectedness, for then violence toward another is causing harm to ourselves.

Try this: throughout your day silently repeat: “May I be well, May others be well, May I practice harmlessness toward myself and toward all others.”

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Ed & Deb are the authors of many books. Deb is the author of award-winning Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 21 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

99 comments

mac C
mac C5 months ago

Wonderful article. I love learning the credo and attitude behind Yoga. All this works to help me with the few poses I love to do. I appreciate the mantra at the end. Thank you, Ed and Deb.

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C8 months ago

Thank you for posting

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C8 months ago

Thank you for posting

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees10 months ago

Very interesting. I've wanted to get into yoga for a while but can't right now do to a foot injury.

We in the USA have allowed our elected leaders to wage endless war. Yet we keep voting the same way. I have been saying we need to vote for Peace & Liberty as it is the best path to a better sustainable world.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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ELIZABETH McGowan
.11 months ago

many thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Carolyn Bateman
Carolyn Bateman11 months ago

So wonderful to see people writing about the philosophy of yoga, not just the physical poses. Yoga is a beautiful system of living, a way to understand ourselves in such a way that balance, kindness and compassion begin to be our natural way of being in the world. Thank you.

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Mark H.
Mark H11 months ago

Thanks!

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Sierra B.
Sierra B11 months ago

I love yoga. I have only done it once in my life, because my pe teacher was absent and we had a sub, I would love to do it again. I felt so relaxed, so at peace, and it did wonders for my muscles and it put me to sleep really fast

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